There is a humanitarian issue in primarily Northern Cameroon where battles between the Islamic State of West Africa (more commonly known as Boko Haram) locals and the Cameroonian military have mostly been concentrated. On October 14th U.S President Barack Obama wrote a letter to Congress stating that the U.S will be sending 300 troops to Cameroon to further U.S interests in national security and pursuit of American foreign policy goals. Obama also highlighted that troops are going to assist the Cameroonian military in the war against Boko Haram.
An advanced team of 90 soldiers has already been sent on October 12 and their mission in Cameroon will be to provide airborne and reconnaissance support to the Cameroonian military as it combats elements of Boko Haram. Even though they will not be involved in frontline combat missions, the soldiers will be armed for their own protection. This will be the first real US military deployment in Francophone Africa and the first action since their withdrawal from the unfruitful Somalia mission in 1994. In recent years the US had preferred to provide background, intelligence and logistics support to countries in Africa instead of hard military assistance.
Many Cameroonians and foreigners have expressed their opposition to the move as many are quick to recall the consequences of similar missions in Iraq and Afghanistan which plunged these countries into internal political conflict and economic recessions. When President Paul Biya of Cameroon officially launched war against Boko Haram on May 2014 thousands were killed as almost all efforts are on the violent suppression of the conflict while little to nothing is done to transform it into a sustainable environment for locals. Thousands of soldiers are being recruited every year and the military expenditure, which is not fully known to the public, keeps rising. Their solution is not forthcoming. The nation keeps burying its deceased – both civilian and military – despite the presence of thousands of military men in the North and several security measures put in place.
In the early 1990s, the Nigerian and Cameroonian militaries were engaged in violent confrontations over the control of the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula, which became Cameroon’s major battle since their struggle for independence. However the solution never came from the military but rather, from negotiations. The Boko Haram conflict is another opportunity for the recruitment of not only of the military, but of negotiators, mediators, conflict communicators and communication facilitators.